Followers of the HipHopHeads subreddit were shocked last month by the announcement that one of its members was apparently making a track with a globally successful rapper. “I paid £0.45 for a Lil B feature,” claimed a user going by the name XIJ3S0NXX385. The poster explained that he had sent Lil B some of his music after seeing a tweet from the artist requesting suggestions for his playlist. To his surprise, the rapper responded saying he wanted to work with him. Most producers hoping for a collaboration with a rapper of Lil B’s size have to shell out five-figure sums for the honour. XIJ3S0NXX385 had just 50p to his name, but Lil B told him to send what he could. “I wanted to keep some so I sent Lil B 45p,” read the post. A day later Lil B sent him a verse.
Unsurprisingly the post blew up, with more than five thousand upvotes in two weeks. A few commenters were skeptical, arguing that XIJ3S0NXX385 had opened the floodgates, and Lil B would now be inundated with offers of pennies in return for raps. Others pointed out the artist was no mug: “lil b probs wouldnt have done it for literally nothing if he didnt fuck with this dudes music heavy,” reasoned HighlyBaked0. “I highly doubt he would do a 40 cent feature from some nerd whos music is cheeks.” Mostly the responses were heartwarming, appreciative and congratulatory — what Lil B himself might call based.
XIJ3S0NXX385 is 16-year-old Jason Davidson, a bedroom hip-hop producer who makes beats as Asendo. The result of his encounter, released to YouTube and SoundCloud on Wednesday, is a remix of his track “Improve On Ya”, on which Lil B can be heard rapping “I got so many bitches, I’m the man!”
Since 2006 Lil B has built a legion of devotees, fans calling themselves the Task Force. His eclectic rapping — ranging from ad-libbed non-rhymes to biting social commentaries — and a production style that’s touched on electro, gabber, hyphy, trap and dubstep have prompted admirers like Kendrick Lamar, Danny Brown and Frank Ocean to wax about his influence on contemporary hip-hop.
He’s no stranger to egregious acts either. In 2018 he was accused of asking underage girls for photos of themselves with “I love Lil B” written on their bare feet. In 2017 he offered free guest verses to any Florida-based artists affected by Hurricane Irma. In the video for his 2012 track “I Love You” (one of two Lil B songs with that title), he’s seen crying in a pet store. He’s also featured on songs officially credited to a cat.
His latest collaborator, Jason, talks to us on Facebook Messenger from his home in Leith, Edinburgh, about his ambition for the new tune. “I hope the hype surrounding the track finally pays off and the track starts getting attention,” he says. “If it causes people to start listening to the tracks I have made, that would be even greater. I’d imagine that the track would get more plays than normal since I have the Based God on one of my tracks.
“I’ll be honest and say that before I got the feature, I haven’t listened to a full Lil B track,” he says. “But after I started checking out more of Lil B’s music to familiarize myself with his material I started to become a big fan of his music.” He says he was unconvinced when he first listened to what Lil B sent him. “But it grew on me and I love the verse now.” As Jason said in his original Reddit post, it was the sort of thing “that only Lil B could make sound good.”
Jason has been producing music since he was 14, and living with Asperger’s Syndrome since the age of five. He says he explained about Lil B to his parents “and they were impressed at first but now they are hopeful. Hoping that I get rich.”
During our conversation he gets a message from Lil B: “family love you but the label not approving,” it reads. “Says you have not paid enough we already got you the lil b verse.” It means Jason won’t be able to publish the track to his Spotify account, just YouTube and SoundCloud — which won’t make him as much money. Jason asks how much he’d have to pay: “not going to say but lil b charges 10k to 20k for features so whatever you paid is a discount,” he’s told.
“I know he’s big but he’s not that big,” Jason says, though he understands such fees are the norm these days and a rapper as big as Drake will charge way more. “I heard that to even send your beats to his email, that costs $250-$500,” says Jason. He often chats about this sort of stuff on the HipHopHeads (HHH) subreddit. It’s how he met his first collaborator AnTone, who raps the first verse and chorus on “Improve On Ya.”
Lil B sometimes posts on HHH himself, most notably in an AMA (Ask Me Anything) defending himself for allegedly soliciting photos from underage girls. Shortly afterwards he released “I Got To Many Bitches BASED FREESTYLE,” supposedly a diss track aimed at HHH featuring lines such as “That bitch got a message that I just sent to every hoe and every freak.” Listen closely and you might recognize the instrumental, taken from R. Kelly’s “I Admit It.”
Jason is unsure about that side of Lil B’s public persona. “I wake up on a Saturday and see all the girls in nothing but a two piece with ‘LOVE LIL B’ all over them,” he says. “I once saw him wanting booty pictures from ‘thick men’.”
How did Jason react to that?
“I saw it as a chance to slide into his DMs,” he says. “But afterwards, it’s a bit weird that he uses a bot to mass-DM ladies that might or might not be underage for feet pics.”
Meanwhile Jason remains focused on music, with some lofty ambitions of his own. “I don’t plan on stopping even if there are troubles along the way. Success is when you reach a point in your career when people start knowing you in the street, when people start talking about you online and when labels are having wars trying to sign you,” he says, before quickly adding: “that was another answer I gave in another small interview,” referring to a blogger Inglan Thomas, who he spoke to recently.
For now Jason is living on an allowance of £20 a month from his parents, though he dreams of living the life of a superstar. “Then I pull myself into the real world and say that I have to work for it.”